Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oyster Gluttony All Night (And Still Not Complete)



So it turns out that 100 oysters for 4 people is, actually, too many. We managed to knock out about 65 oysters, but the remainders are on ice for an Oysters Rockefeller Monday Night. And cracking those suckers open is harder than it looks!

As for the calamari, it turned out great and was devoured before I caught it on camera (actually it's got a tiny cameo in upper right corner of the first photo). In addition to the recipe I used, I soaked the sliced tubes of squid in the buttermilk for 2-3 hours prior to final fry. I learned that if you don't have the oil as hot as it needs to be, all the breading falls off into the oil and floats on the surface before burning and settling to the bottom to create a blackened mud that will land on the next batch you fry. So my first batch was best and the next 3 weren't tops; however now I have the system down.

I also learned your breading should be HIGHLY seasoned or else you should throw sea salt onto the fried calamari. My dipping sauce was 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tbsp stone ground mustard, and 1 tsp dried ground mustard. It was pretty good.

To go along with the spread we had crab dip, all the oyster fixins, and homebrewed beer. Fintastic.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Oyster Gorge

For a belated birthday gift, friends brought me and Taste Tester 100 (yeah that's right) oysters from the fintastic Quality Seafood . See what I did there? Fin? I'm here all week, folks.

So to complement it, I took on my a challenge I've been pussyfooting(hehe) around for years: calamari fritti . I realize it's not hard to fry stuff, but calamari is so easy to get wrong. I've had it all over, often terribly chewey, and I still think the best is at North by Northwest restaurant and brewery here in town. It's so lightly fried it looks undercooked, a beautiful pale shade of tan. Their dipping sauce is untraditional, a type of stone-ground mustard aoili, and I plan to rip off their whole show tonight.

Here's the recipe I think sounds best:
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch rings
However, instead of oregano I'll add lots of other seasonings...maybe fresh chopped parsley, Old Bay seasoning, and something spicy...

Will update when I know whether it was a success or total failure...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scallops and Asparagus (My Presentation Skills Suck)

I think I really need to go back to presentation school. I put this together at 1030 last night after we stayed out a wee late went grocery shopping late last night, and then plopped it on the plate without much ado.
It tasted fantastic (the scallops were seared with a little paprika and garlic and salt, the asparagus seared with salt and lemon juice, and the wild rice had its own flavor from the packet). However, it just looks blah, and I need to work on that.
Today, though, the only garnish on my mind is a lime in a beer bottle or an orange slice on a margarita.

Birthday Suits Are The New Black




I'll just leave it to the photos to explain the fun of my family under the perfect new arbor, the raunchiness that occurs when six dogs get along really well, the hilarity of three tipsy ladies trying to negotiate rules to an official game of Football Keep-Away, and their ultimate decision to just counsel about it and drink more beer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Arbor Days



Taste Tester's mad skills at building have bestowed upon our back yard a lovely arbor from which to hang lights and grow vines and swing chimes and suspend plants and possibly, maybe even nail up tacky decor from Big Lots. He claims I can do whatever I want, but when the tacky decor comes out I think there may be some debate about that.

He built it in about a total of 3 hours, and finished it before the party, which is getting underway...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Getting All Tarted Up

















For my birthday, my coworkers got me this beautiful fruit tart. Delicious and less sugary than cake! I think!
Tomorrow, on the actual day...my new arbor and party with Taste Tester's Famous Ribs, cole slaw, deviled eggs, my fire-roasted salsa, chips and guacamole!
Also some tasty carbonated beverages, ifyouknowwhatimean andithinkyoudo.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Successful Boating Adventure

Well, the first outing was a success, and we'll try to repeat the process tomorrow with guests. The day was beautiful, the water was freezing, and the lake was uncrowded. I was reminded of why I need to eat better and embrace sit-ups, but overall it was a great time.

I didn't photograph it, but for lunch at Ski Shores we had burgers with grilled onions and jalapenos, guacamole, and mayo. It was delish and terrifically greasy, and we had fried okra on the side to top off the 4,400 calorie count. Having not had a burger in over a year, it made for an uncomfortable evening later, but it tasted amazing at the time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Boudreaux's Big Day Out


This photo is just to show how beautifully spring has sprung early here, sadly without any freezes to slaughter the many pests that wait in their lairs plotting revenge against Advantix and flea dip, but still lovely.
In fact it's so nice we're taking my boat, Boudreaux, out for her first excursion of the year. I'll try to memorialize some non-drunken photos of Lake Austin and Ski shores restaurant, the restaurant you can only reach by water. Well that's not completely true, in fact it's completely false, but who really cares if I lie about that?
In any case, bikinis and white bodies will see their first 90-degree days and hopefully the engine won't play any tricks on us, because Taste Tester knows zilch about boating. He boasts of knowing plenty enough to pull the 24 feet of pure luxury yacht-like pontoon boat to the water, but once on the water Cap'n Rubyjune will be in command. So check in soon for photos of our being towed out of the water after disaster, of course, befalls us.